Archive for September, 2010

A marathon weekend

Posted in Uncategorized on September 27, 2010 by Trail Boy

Well, the Akron Marathon did just fine without me.

On Saturday morning, while I was playing the piano for my niece’s wedding, about 13,000 runners were trotting around Akron and taking in the crisp air.

And there must have been something special in the air, because according to the Akron Beacon Journal, six course records were set.

I hated to miss the race, but an injury is an injury, and there was no sense in making a fool of myself and causing more damage to my IT band.

But I had my hands full over the weekend. In addition to my niece’s wedding, I visited my parents, a few favorite sights (the Lake Erie waterfront, for one), some old friends and my old church. Plus I was trying to keep my two sons occupied, and give my wife a helping hand with all the logistics. You could say it was a different kind of marathon.

But though it all, I was keeping my eye on the marathon in Akron. As far as I can tell, the race went off without a hitch, and with perfect conditions.

 My friend, Kevin, was using the race as a training run for Columbus next month. But he felt so good that he finished in 3:34 and got another BQ. I ran into Kevin the next day and he said he felt great and was still planning to run Columbus.

Like everyone who has a good race, he was filled with joy, and that was good to see.

Of course, it was also good to see my niece Amanda and her fiance Andy tied the knot at Lakewood Congregational Church in front of about 150 people.  There were no flubs or stumbles of any kind. And I’m happy to say that I managed to play Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” and Mouret’s “Rondeau” with only one or two minor mistakes, not bad for a back-up, non-professional musician.


What a difference a decimal point makes

With all the activities and driving around, I didn’t have time to hit my favorite trails. I didn’t run much at all, in fact, although I did a lot of walking and sight-seeing.

But I corrected that this morning. I got up early, made coffee, got my son on the school bus, then went out for a neighborhood run.

How far did I go? Well, how does 26.2 sound?

OK, it sounds preposterous. But I had 26.2 on my brain. Actually I ran two big loops around the block, not pushing my leg too hard. And when I thought about it, it came out to about two and a half miles.

So let’s say I ran 2.62. That’s pretty close to 26.2, isn’t it? Just the difference of a decimal point.

Yep, that’s my story.

So while my IT band continues to heal, I’ll claim victory with 2.62 miles.

Next year, I hope to improve my running distance by a factor of 10.


Frazz — he’s still my man

Frazz - September 25, 2010

A wedding march for a loyal reader

Posted in Uncategorized on September 21, 2010 by Trail Boy

Bloggers would be nothing without their readers. And one of my most loyal readers is my niece Amanda.    

She’s not a trail runner, but I guess she enjoys reading her uncle’s occasional rants and seeing pictures of him making a fool of himself.  

My niece, Amanda, and her fiance, Andy.

Whenever I run into her at family reunions, she gives me a hearty “Hi, Trail Boy!” And then she quotes something I wrote months ago — something I had long forgotten about. You have to love a reader like that. And a niece like that.    

But sometimes, Amanda gets tough. Earlier this year, she demanded to know why I had stopped in the middle of a 5K to take a photo for my blog.    

“You could have finished that race 30 seconds faster, Trail Boy!” she said.     

But all in all, she’s a real sweetie. And now it’s my turn to do something for her.  But first, some background.

About a year ago, Amanda got engaged to her longtime boyfriend, Andy. Later, she set her wedding date as September 25, 2010. I was thrilled for her.    

But when I looked at my calendar, I privately groaned. Her wedding was the same day as the Akron Marathon, one of my favorite annual races. And I was planning to use the Akron Marathon as a training race for a very important marathon a few weeks later.    

But of course, I wouldn’t miss my lovely niece’s wedding. At least, I wasn’t planning to.    

I didn’t say anything. Quietly, I started rearranging my training schedule.    

But somehow, Amanda got wind of the conflict and practically ordered me to go run the Akron Marathon. “Don’t even give it a second thought, Trail Boy” she said, or words to that effect. “You can run the marathon and still make it to my reception.”    

What a sweetheart. Did I mention she always thinks of the other person?    

So I signed up for the Akron Marathon and started training. But then I had to go and hurt my leg. And within a few weeks, it was clear that my injury was so serious that I wasn’t going to run that marathon or any other marathon this fall. I blogged about that too.    

But the silver lining, which I didn’t blog about, was that I could now go to Amanda’s wedding. And that was very good news.    

A week or two ago, Amanda sent me an urgent note. Her choice of a church musician had fallen through expectedly. Could I play the piano at her wedding?    

Over the years at these family reunions (usually around the holidays), I often sit down at the piano and pound out a few carols. I enjoy it, even if it’s not exactly Van Cliburn level of musicianship.    

But when someone asks me to play at a wedding, there’s only one thing to say. Especially when that someone is my loyal reader and a favorite niece.    

So yes, Amanda, I would love to play. And I can’t wait to see you on Saturday.    

I know you want me to play Bach and Pachelbel. But I’m half-tempted to play this instead (well, most of it):    


(To return to the home page, click here.) 


Inch by inch, row by row

Posted in Uncategorized on September 19, 2010 by Trail Boy

I never thought that recovering from an injury would be measured in feet and inches.

As a runner and a gardener, I should know it by now.

Nature has its own timetable. You need to let it happen in its own way. You can’t rush it.

You can’t pretend you’re in charge, and go running for hours. So my workouts are no longer five or ten or fifteen miles. They are much simpler. Can I run around the block without stopping? Can I run around the block — plus one more driveway? Plus two more driveways?

Day by day. Inch by inch. Foot by foot.

But those feet and inches add up. Today, I was thrilled to run 2 1/2 miles without stopping once.

That’s huge, compared to where I was a month ago.

Yes, sure, it might seem small in the scheme of things. After all, next Saturday is the Akron Marathon. I signed up for it months ago. I was going to use it as my last, long, slow training run for the Columbus Marathon next month.

I love the Akron Marathon. It’s scenic. It’s fun. It’s well-organized. Running through my old hometown, where I left my heart, gives me chills.

But I won’t be there. A marathon is not in my plans this year. Not even a half-marathon. Not even a 10K. Not when I’m recovering from in iliotibial band flare-up.

But that’s OK. I’m just happy to be running.

There will be marathons next year.

These day, my successes are marked in feet and inches.

Excuses, excuses

Posted in Uncategorized on September 13, 2010 by Trail Boy


It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted here, which can mean only a few possible things. Which do you think it was?   

* I’ve been stuck in a high-rise elevator.   

* I’ve been stuck in a coal mine.    

*My computer is broken.    

* My typing fingers are broken.    

* I’m writing a definitive history of trail running.    

* I’m writing a definitive history of garden rakes.    

* I’ve been scrubbing my bathroom grout.    

* I’ve been scrubbing my hard drive.    

*I have lost all interest in sharing my running experiences.   

* I have had no running experiences to share.    

Well, I think we all know the correct answer.  When I don’t blog, it’s usually because I haven’t been running.    

Yes, I’m such a blabbermouth, that any time I pull on my running shoes and trot farther than 100 feet, I have to post 20 paragraphs about it.    

So the correct answer is Number 10. I haven’t been running much. The only question is why not.    

You might wonder: Trail Boy, what the hell?    

And here’s the answer: If it’s not one thing, it’s another.    

My IT band is still a bit tender, and I decided to give it a few more weeks. And believe it or not, I had a hell of lower-back pain last weekend. I could barely get out of  a chair without looking like a 90-year-old invalid.    

But both problems now seem fairly under control. I hope.    

So today I ran a slow, slow mile, just to get back into it. How slow? Well, how does 11:56 sound? And after one mile, I was ready to call it quits. So I did. No sense over-doing it, and winding back up on the couch for another month with a sore back and God knows what else.    


A day at the races    

Despite the cloudy skies over my own running life, I’m finding a little sunshine from my two sons.    

On Saturday, Steven and Jake ran cross-country races. Steven (a high school freshman) ran a muddy 5K in Brown County. Jake (a 6th grader)ran a 3K at a mega-invitational in Indy.    

Here’s a look at their races. First, here’s Steven’s team:    

Steven is third in line, Number 478.


OK, Number 478, go have a good race!


What's cross country without a little mud?


I don't have any pictures of Steven at the finish line, but I couldn't resist including this one. Love this guy's intensity.


Now, here’s Jake’s team:    

Jake and Eastwood Eagles get psyched for the race.


And they're off -- some 200 strong, from a dozen or so schools.


Into the woods.


Jake passes a competitor near the football field.


The final stretch: Jake (in the middle) pushes for position.


Jake gets a ribbon: 29th place out of 200-some runners in the junior varsity race, with a time of 13:08.